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Los Angeles Becomes Newest Sanctuary City

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 11, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Increasing tension between Washington and California over the fate of Mexican migrants, Los Angeles joined a growing list of sanctuary cities.

The city council unanimously approved a resolution declaring Los Angeles a "sanctuary city," formally adopting a state law that declared California a "sanctuary state" in 2017. It comes as President Trump fights for a border wall, a battle that shutdown the federal government for weeks.

Trump, who wants $5.7 billion for the wall, said he will pull out all federal immigration agents from the state over the sanctuary measures. Sanctuary advocates like the sound of that, but the president is not done yet.

Criminal Justice

After Trump's State of the Union address, the California attorney general said his office will take legal action if the president declares a national emergency to fund the wall. Meanwhile, the president has threatened to cut off criminal justice grants to sanctuary cities.

Last year, a federal judge blocked the administration's efforts to withhold public safety grants from sanctuary cities in California. Judge William Orrick said the measures -- designed to force local cooperation with federal immigration agents -- were unconstitutional.

The sanctuary battle has a real impact on counties like Los Angeles, which is home to some 3.5 million immigrants. According to the Pew Research Center, about half the immigrants in Los Angeles County are undocumented.

Immigrant Protections

In the city, lawmakers are doing more than declaring sanctuary status. In addition to the sanctuary resolution, they approved a new program to help immigrants and other minority groups.

The council formed a Civil Human Rights Commission, which will make discrimination a crime in Los Angeles. The agency will police discrimination in housing, employment, education, and business.

"For generations, Los Angeles has been a city of opportunity that welcomes those who want to come here and work hard to improve their quality of life," said Councilman Gil Cedillo. "Our 'City of Sanctuary' declaration and new civil and human rights ordinance ensures that will be the case for generations to come."

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